Rich dad, Poor dad

Author: Robert T. Kiyosaki

My Rating: 4.6 / 5

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“Working hard for money is an old formula born in the day of cave man”

Go to school, get good grades, find a secured job, work hard, save money and retire – this has been the mantra of our life. But by following this mantra the middle class will remain as middle class only passing on the same cycle to the next generation. The reason for this (as the author puts it) is that we haven’t been thought financial intelligence in our schools i.e we haven’t been thought the art and science of making money. The author illustrates a few examples of how cash flow works and explains the differences between cash flows of poor, middle-class and rich people and thereby emphasizing why they are the way they are. It all comes down to how well we manage our asset columns. I would like to mention the highlights of this book.

Middle class/Poor vs Rich:

This difference comprises the core of the book. The author stresses on the fact how to make money work for you instead of working for money. He uses two terms viz. “Rat race” and “Fast track” predominantly throughout the book. The former refers to the mundane middle class habit of working hard at the job, paying bills and liabilities, saving in a conventional way not bothering to build on the asset column. In simplistic terms he defines asset as something which puts money in your pocket and liability as something which takes money out of your pocket. The latter refers to a smart habit which according to the author pushes people from middle class to the so called rich. It incorporates the idea of building our assets until our asset column alone is sufficient to meet our expenses with or without our day job. According to the author, assets are stocks, bonds, mutual funds, income generating real estate or anything that produces income, appreciates and has a ready market.

Playing safe vs Playing smart:

The author puts spotlight on the fact that many people never become rich because they show reluctance in taking risks and hence they make “safe investments“. But the problem with these investments is that they give very low returns. And of course the author acknowledges the fact that there is a higher risk involved when you make investments which have the potential to milk higher returns. But that is exactly where financial intelligence comes into picture. He further asserts that there is not a single rich person in this world who hasn’t lost money while experimenting. You lose, you learn from your mistakes, you learn new formulas and you invest again – this time more sophisticated. This is how smart people invest.

Controversial views:

The author contradicts the popular saying “Our home is our greatest asset“. Instead he views it as a liability unless you have generated an asset column which pays for the bank loan. A bigger house usually means higher expenses as we have to refurnish everything matching the requirements of it. What many people fail to consider is the property tax which will be incurred upon them. Also, we miss out on the opportunity to make other investments which would have grown faster in value simply because we have no money left to invest. Another controversial view is “Pay yourself first and others later“. Even at times when you realize that you will not have enough money left to pay bills, the author still asks you to pay yourself first. Our asset column should be far more important to us than anything else. He claims that it is a good money habit because when we pay ourselves first we get financially stronger and when we pay ourselves last, we let people like bosses, tax collectors, bill collectors and managers push us around all our lives. Though I wasn’t fully convinced with the author’s views personally, these insights gave me a different approach to look at the same topic.

Who can buy this book ?

Anyone who has a fire in their belly to become rich. But, doesn’t that mean everyone ?? No, it doesn’t. There is a fine line between people who have the desire to become rich and people who take steps towards it. The author illustrates by using an example that it is strange to see people who give 10 percent of bill as a tip but are hesitant to give 5 percent of fee to a broker. This book definitely serves as a great inspiration to take action but it alone isn’t sufficient. Personally, I would say it is a very good start for anyone who plans to invest.

The mindset of Indian women….has to change

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Before I start to write anything, let me tell you that I am a feminist. I advocate for the equality of sexes. But I don’t think that even if millions of people like me support for the cause, there isn’t going to be any significant change in the role women play in the society. These figures from World Bank which shows the labour force participation rate of women in India exemplifies it. To oversimplify things for the sake of this post, I am classifying millennial women in India into 3 broad categories.

1. The Conservative set:

They make up a huge chunk of the population. Their dreams are limited. Cultural backgrounds have forced them to draw boundaries to their goals. Their parents don’t focus on what their aspirations are. They are told to maintain “decency” and are restricted from activities like late night partying, fashion dressing and sometimes even speaking out their opinion raises eyebrows. Fingers are pointed towards them when they mingle too much with men. You get the idea right? But if they start believing that it’s the way they are supposed to live they are making a catastrophic mistake. Before anything else, they need to dig into themselves and find out their lost ambition. What drives them? What would they do if there is no one around to judge. They need to stop worrying about their mounting age, pressure from their parents to marry early, pressure to quit their jobs. Does it feel too tough to go against parents and society? Well let them imagine themsleves being 85 years old at the brink of their lives turning back and realising that all they have done is cook and feed their husband/kids/grandkids. Are they going to print their qualifications on their marriage cards or are they going to make an impact with it? They can live independently and make money by themselves. One thing which they need to do is to start living their lives instead of others.

“I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do was to fulfill my profession which I entered” – Hillary Clinton

2. The Vacuous Set:

Unlike the first set, they have the luxury of being born into liberal families. They don’t have any limitations or ceilings on what they want to achieve. But the problem is they never think of achieving something. They are tamed too much to act wild. They are content with what they have and never think of multiplying it. They need a guy who earns well on one hand and unconditionally loves them on the other. You might probably have imagined a few people while reading through these lines. But it isn’t their fault completely. They have a sense of insecurity. They want to appear “cool” and do not want to be lost in the crowd. The similarity between them and the conservative set is that they pay too much attention to the people around them. Even they are unaware of what drives them. How would they? All their time is invested in materialistic things like glamour, beauty, crappy movie gossips, mocking conservative women or mocking anyone who they think aren’t fashionable/ don’t spend much/ have an inferior lifestyle. They never invest in themselves which makes them vacuous and in specific cases it earns them tags like bimbos. Bottomline: Dearth of both empathy and intellect. One thing which they need to do is to start pivoting their time onto productive things and challenge men in all aspects of life.

“Any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid.” – Hedy Lamarr

3. The Rational Set:

These women are great adapters. Irrespective of the type of families they are born into, they push their potential. They are rational minded and set up at least short term goals. These are usually the type of women who contribute their fair share instead of adhering to fallacies that men are supposed to pay every time or that only men are supposed to save money. They do that because they hate being dependent. They aim high to the ranks of starting their own business or growing up through the corporate ladder or becoming a professor or sometimes even dedicating their lives to research. They don’t blame that society is inherently gender biased and sit back. They sense the rise of feminism and make full use of it. They know how to persuade people. Just like a majority of men, they are hungry to make a mark and make their voice be heard. They don’t let stereotypes dent their ambitions. But the problem is that relatively they are very few in number and sometimes even these set of women become complacent.

“If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman” – Margaret Tatcher

It all comes down to a simple choice for women in India today. Are they going to sit back and play they blame game or are they going to figure out a way around ? I am not telling that there aren’t major problems being faced by women today. There is no moral encouragement. They struggle to balance their lives between their conservative older generations and their liberal peers. Add a never ending bunch of creeps to that.

But there are always multiple ways to react to a problem and how you react defines your mindset. For instance, take the wage differences between men and women cricket teams. The conservative set of women would feel that sports isn’t really a woman’s thing and that the players should feel happy for making it that far. The vacuous set would start ranting about how everything in the world is biased against woman. The rational set would….well, think rationally. How many people watch women’s cricket ? How many women watch women’s cricket ? How can any sponsor (shirt/title/broadcast) justify their expenses with such a low audience. If they are determined to change the status quo, they take the baby steps. Watching the game, sharing updates on social media, creating interest amongst their peers. If enough women in the country have this mindset then………..well, I don’t know. But I do know that it will lead to a better outcome than self-regressing and doing nothing or ranting and doing nothing.

On a positive note, things are changing for better. Look how the United Nations is planning to elect their next leader or how Canadian PM Trudeau elected his cabinet. This expanding list also features female Indian entrepreneurs. To sum it up, if the mindset of women isn’t going to change, no government policy will help in bridging the gap of the labour force participation rate that I have mentioned in the intro.

Thanks for reading, feel free to comment.

Veronika Decides To Die

Author: Paulo Coelho

My Rating:  4.2 / 5

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” Madness is the inability to communicate your ideas

This is my favourite line in the entire novel. Somewhere at the beginning of the book you come across the question ” Who are mad people and what is madness ? ”  and you will find the answer for this question later in the book after which I introspected myself whether I am a mad person or not. Surprisingly, my answer was slightly inclined towards yes if I took my past into consideration. I realized that there used to be a deficit between the ideas and passions which had popped in my mind and the expressions and actions which I had put forward. Now I would like to mention the highlights of the book.

Reasons for Suicide:

This came as a shock to me not because that they are extremely silly but are convincing enough. FIRST: Once the young age departs, it would be downhill all the way with old age beginning to leave irreversible remarks, onset of illness and loss of loved ones. So there is no point in continuing life. End it when it is perfect. SECOND: There were many wrong things going on in the world but she had no way of putting them right, which gave her a sense of powerlessness. End it when you are not playing a role. If everyone had the guts to take their lives ( or timidness depending on your perception ), I guess a vast majority of people will go ahead after they read and absorb these two lines.

Bitterness of life:

We often try to stay in our comfort zones without putting up any risks since we feel that moving out of our comfort zones may disrupt our lives. But eventually it leads us to the sameness and monotony in every aspect of life which will ultimately make us uncomfortable which the author quotes as bitterness. We hide our passions and desires since we do not want them to hinder our relationships and our normal day-to-day life. We sacrifice them because we do not want to disappoint our parents and our loved ones but the result turns out into disappointing ourselves.

Life in a mental asylum:  

We often think of mad people as someone with a health problem involving lack of certain chemicals. But there are people who try to build a wall from outside world and sufferings, people trying to escape from unemployment and economic crisis during wars, people just acting madness in order to free themselves from certain crimes they are charged with. The author narrates three individual stories who end up in the hospital for three different reasons: The first by depression due to the loss of a loved person, the second by panic attacks and the fear that she may never lead her normal life again, the third by sacrificing his goals for his parents and suffering from delusions. All the three of them remind us of the important characteristics which we need to uphold for a successful life.

Who can buy this book ?

Many of us often have this strange feeling that we are not living our lives whole-heartedly. There is always a small space in our hearts filled with this dissatisfaction. After reading through the blurb of this novel, you will definitely question yourself  ” How am I going to live if I were to die in a week ? ” If you find the answer, then kudos!!! and start living your entire life in that way. If you don’t find it, then there isn’t a better time than now to figure it out. Irrespective of either case I feel that this book is worth a read for everyone.

THE ALCHEMIST

Author –        Paulo Coelho

My Rating –    4.2 / 5  

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                                       Months before I started reading this book, on a certain occasion I thought over a question: Who is God? , the instant answer was the same routine one that he is the power who created us and the universe, but then struck the question: Who created God? …….then I remembered the Higgs-Boson particle being researched by some of the scientists and physicists. But, even what they conclude is that something came from something, but how did this something ever come into existence? , I felt that something came from nothing and this something can become nothing when the nature wishes to and I concluded the question with an answer that this power which makes something to nothing and vice-versa is the SOUL, which is present in every element in the universe including humans.

Now coming back to the novel, an alchemist is a person who is believed to have the skill of converting lead or any other metal into gold. The story starts with a boy named Santiago whose parent’s wishes him to become a priest but he has a different passion and follows it. He encounters with the same dream twice within a span of a few days and goes in search of it which happens in every novel, but whenever he pauses he finds a driving force in some or the other form. In some part of the book, a saying goes “If you put your full heart into something, then the whole nature conspires you in achieving it.” I also want to mention the highlights of this book:

1. Following our dreams:

“Do what your heart tells you to do.”, a famous quotation which we come across many times in our life and some people refer it as passion. Before reading the book I only thought of fulfilling my passions but after reading the book, it was something more. I never felt like the boy Santiago who dreamt of something twice and gets curious about it and wills to find a way to reach his treasure near the Egypt pyramids. Maybe I don’t remember my dreams or even I do, I don’t have gypsies around me to hold my palm and say what it is about !!!……..well but I had to admire the courage of the boy Santiago who risks his earnings and sells his sheep in order to travel a different place which he didn’t even know in search of his treasure, I had to admire him because most probably I would never keep my earnings at stake in pursuit of reaching my dream in my entire life. But courage is the key to balanced life and with that element he decides to become a shepherd instead of a priest at first and then decides to follow his dream later on. Maybe the story is far away from my original surroundings and daily life and maybe that is why I couldn’t help admiring the character. Then I felt that even if there were gypsies around me, I need to break the parental power and stop caring for money to follow my dream and that might never happen, maybe that was what I felt missing the instant I closed the book.

2. The Alchemy:

The further I read the book, the more connected I felt with it because it has the same question which I mentioned in the introduction part that occurred to me much earlier. This further proved me that every being has the same soul and perhaps people get similar questions and ideas because of this philosophy. We try to change for better and modify ourselves. More or less, alchemy is something like this philosophy. The author tells that: Lead tries to change its properties and becomes gold as a process of evolution, but it will only happen when lead has fulfilled its purpose and destiny. This is a perfect beauty from the author who refers that if we are supposed to turn into gold or evolve then we have to first follow our dreams and fulfill our destinies. As we do this, we not only evolve ourselves but also evolve the surroundings. Forget the alchemy, I was just wondering about the girl Fatima, a desert girl with whom Santiago falls in love in the midst of his treasure-seeking journey. She tells him to go ahead and find what he has been looking for though she knew that there was a possibility that he would never come back. Yet, once again I felt that the story is far away from my daily life and surroundings. But this time I couldn’t admire the character but instead felt jealous of it because finding a girl who understands your heart doesn’t come from an inner quality something like courage, it is of pure luck or maktub, an Arabic word which means “it is written” as mentioned by the author in the novel.

3. Omens:

My goodness, I felt as if this word appeared on almost every page of the book that I had to look at the dictionary to find its exact meaning. Damn, these 161 pages consists of so many philosophical statements that you would probably forget half of them the minute you close the book. The boy Santiago followed omens throughout his journey and what mattered me was the way he followed them. The author calls it as the universal language or the language between the souls. The boy Santiago could sense a language between him and the sheep, the desert, the tribesman, the wind and every elemental particle he found around him, the ultimate essential wisdom of listening to our hearts. There was one scene in the novel which was very hard to imagine, the conversion of a man into wind. Perhaps, the alchemist wanted to prove the boy that he could convert himself into any elemental form he desired to be. I thought over the possibility of this scene when I was first encountered with the question that I mentioned in the intro, it made sense when I thought over it deeply but it was like an exaggeration when I read it in the book. The climax was good proving the novel with the statement “All is well that ends well.”

Who can buy this book ?

Well, as the book stands as an inspiration with its rich philosophical values, anybody can buy this one. Unlike other books you need a lot of patience and leisure to complete this one, the narration has got its meaning rooted in-depth and so take your time in reading it.

I want to tell you about two characters, one: The boy Santiago or the hero of the novel who commits to his passion, follows his dream, listens to his heart and follows the omens, finds his girl, discovers the universal language between the souls and two: An average man who commits to do what most of the people do as he feels that it is a secured path, follows wealth and money, never discovers the universal language as he is never out in the nature and never tries to evolve himself into something like gold.

Just observe the difference between these two characters, if you feel like buying the book, go ahead…….!!!!!!!

 

WHAT YOUNG INDIA WANTS

  

Author      —  Chetan Bhagat

My Rating –  4.2 / 5

A non-fiction written by an author who is well-known for his fiction writings, itself gave the readers a keen interest. His readers must have expected him to write something fun, romantic and dramatic writings as he always does in his alternative style. Maintaining the same style he just changed the content and the content is about suicides, corruption, poor health facilities and education which doesn’t brings up innovating masters in our country. Bhagat mentions that: Corruption is a way of life in India which is a by-product of a system that is power driven. He refers the system to the constitution and power to the wealthy political leaders. But corruption is not just confined to the system but also the society. A remarkable statement: ‘The system changes with better policies and society changes with better values’ gives you a gist of the writings in the book. If it had been any other author it might be a bit boring but this one is a beauty. The book is primarily based on the youth of India as most of the country is young .

HIGHLIGHTS :

                                                      The book gives detailed information of the politics in India and how we are bound to it. He boldly tells how the UPA and NDA governments actually behave according to their policies. But there are some highlights in the book which I want to mention :

1-SPARKS :

This section is confined to students which I liked the most because I am one of those. Spark is the excitement which makes us feel truly alive. When we are kids we used to have a million sparks. A spider-man toy was enough to excite us to jump on the beds. A gift presented on our birthday made us to somersault all over the house. A movie show or a dine at the restaurant or a country side trip used to fill up us with interest, curiosity and anxiety. This excitement is called as spark.

When we reach the graduation age we still have these sparks with us but comparatively less. As you move on to the older age, it is difficult to find these sparks in us. Chetan takes an example of Kareena in the movie Jab we met. When we compare her to the first half versus the second half, we find that she loses her spark in the second half. This is what that happens to us if we lose the spark. Chetan says that these sparks can be invoked by three factors and should be protected from four storms. They are:

  • Reasonable goals
  • Balance of health and relationships
  • Not taking things too seriously

And the four storms are:

  • Disappointment
  • Frustration
  • Unfairness
  • Loneliness of purpose

The author says that to keep these sparks alive we must always have goals as by human nature we always strive, improve and achieve our full potential. He tells us not to do things for money, he tells us to do those things which our heart tells us to do, the things which make us happy and the things which make us feel alive.

Secondly, these goals should be balanced. It’s not just about our career goals, it’s about our health, our relationships and of course our peace of mind. What is the use of coming first in a race without lemon in the spoon? Our striving is only worth if there is harmony in life otherwise the spark begins to die.

Thirdly, don’t take life too seriously. The author says that Life is a prepaid card with limited validity. If you live for 60 years you will just have 3000 weekends. It’s okay, bunk a few classes, fall in love. We are people, not programmed devices. Now isn’t that something we always wanted to hear from our parents and teachers!!! I am not kidding, seriously!!!

Chetan also adds that we have 4 obstacles which try to kill our spark. The first being disappointment which comes to us when we do not get the expected results for our efforts. If we can overcome every challenge, then the word challenge will never exist. If we are failing at something, it implies that we have a different stage. Secondly frustration turns our internal energy into something negative, if we are frustrated it implies that we haven’t followed the third principle and took something very serious in our life. Thirdly, never think that life is unfair comparing to others connections, rich dads and beautiful faces. Finally, the most beautiful thing described by the author is isolation. As we grow older we realise that we are unique and what we believe in and what we feel is different from others. It happens because we compromise many things for our families and loved ones which mean so much to us. Chetan says Love yourself first and then others.

Wow!!! Now isn’t this something cool which made us realise that we are missing something. I just felt as if I founded the path of my life.

2. CRITICS:

The next highlight is how Bhagat boldly aims at the leaders of our country. As I mentioned earlier, the critic is not just confined to the system but also the society. Yes, because many of us vote a party by seeing its religion or caste of the leaders but not by their efficiency. We choose leaders from the craze which their dads own. The author precisely describes what Indians do to themselves.

It may be the madam of BJP (indirectly aiming at Sushma Swaraj) who tells us to burn down the Walmart stores or the woman who puts a money garland around her neck (indirectly Mayawati) or the person who thinks that silence is a golden tool or a form of Gandhigiri (indirectly Manmohan Singh) or the woman who keeps quiet even after seeing the corruption in her party (indirectly Sonia Gandhi). Whoever it may be, Chetan has a point in detail why these political leaders have to change their so called attitude.

 3. THE LETTERS AND THE TALENT:

Chetan has written two letters in this book, one to Gandhi and the other to Sonia. In the letter to Gandhi, he describes that India is free from the white people but not from the problems. Many people do not even get the basic amenities while the people who get them do not get a platform to do really something innovative. Also, in the letter to Sonia he addresses how the unaccounted money comes during electorate campaign and reminds her that she has a major role in ending corruption in INC.

And yes, talent is a precious natural resource and we must nurture it. Why does majority of students opt for either engineering or medicine after their plus two? It is because they are passionate towards these streams. Now, can there be anything more senseless than this answer? More or less, this is what even Chetan wants to say us. He says that Talent is a special ability and aptitude that gives people an edge in a particular field. Of course, even if we don’t bring out our talent we can do things but with talent we can change things.

WHO CAN BUY THIS BOOK ?

Well, it really doesn’t matter but since the book is largely focused on the youth, they are more preferred. It really is a book that is worth reading for all the others too. Also, the book is not just the highlights which I had mentioned, it has got a lot more general facts which the author describes in his own style. Of course, even our political leaders (at least those who can understand English), second or third generation business giants should also take a look at this book. I am not a fan of Bhagat personally but the thing is that good literature must always be encouraged!!!.